Semester Preview: Fall 2015 Edition

back-to-school-20114097After posting a final update on the 47th International Horn Symposium, I decided to take a little break from blogging to focus on my preparations for the fall semester. The break turned out to be a little longer than expected, but I’m back now with my traditional semester preview. As always, a new academic year brings new opportunities and challenges, which I’m looking forward to. Here are some highlights from the coming semester.

Guest Artists: We are fortunate to have some excellent guest artists scheduled for recitals and master classes this fall. On October 5 and 6 we will host Dr. Justin Isenhour, Assistant Professor of Low Brass at Ouachita Baptist University and a member of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. Dr. Isenhour and I attended Appalachian State University together, and I’m looking forward to hearing him play and watching him teach. In addition to his extensive performing and teaching activities, he is also a Level II certified Creative Motion® teacher. Dr. Isenhour was an incredible host during our visit to OBU last year, and it will be a pleasure to return the favor. The week after that we will host Dr. Gina Gillie, Associate Professor of Horn at Pacific Lutheran University. Dr. Gillie is a gifted performer and composer, and we attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison together. Dr. Gillie will perform a diverse program for horn and piano, including works by Saint-Saëns, Gliere, Scriabin, Gillie, Basler, and Mark Vallon. She was kind enough to ask me to join her on a performance of her new work, The Great Migration for Two Horns and Piano, published by RM Williams. I had the opportunity to hear her perform this piece at IHS 47 with Dr. Jeffrey Snedeker, and it sounded like fun!

Book Project – Solo Training for Horn: My big project for the next several months will be the companion book to Solo Duet Training for Horns. Though similar to the duet book, Solo Training will include much more “original” content, in the form of derivative exercises and etudes based on solo repertoire for the horn. I’m still in the preliminary planning stages, but the content will overlap some with Solo Duet Training. I’ll be posting updates here periodically, so if you’re interested in the new book check back often!

Recital Program – Music for Voice, Horn, and Piano: Breaking with my usual routine of scheduling a solo recital during the fall semester, my colleagues and I chose to push the program to the spring semester to allow more time to prepare. I’ve already begun practicing the music, and am very excited to perform again with Dr. Claire Vangelisti, soprano, and Dr. Richard Seiler, piano. We are planning to perform works by Reissiger, Berlioz, Panseron, Carrapatoso, and Nicolai, with the possible addition and/or substitution of Gina Gillie’s To the Seasons. I’ll post the final program here once it’s decided. In addition to our performance at ULM, we will also perform at Stephen F. Austin State University and the University of Texas at Tyler. More details as we get closer to the spring.

10 years of Full Time Teaching: This fall marks the beginning of my 10th year of full time college teaching, and I thought a few summary remarks were in order. Time has certainly flown, and it really doesn’t feel like I began teaching that long ago. Many things are different now than they were in the fall of 2006 – both at my institution and in my personal life – but I am continually grateful to be working with wonderful students and colleagues. My teaching and performing schedule is as busy as ever, and the big challenge for me now is to be as efficient as possible in my work and practice habits. Based on my observations of more experienced colleagues, I have come to the conclusion that sustaining a long and productive career depends upon balancing work and home life. Though not always easy, the rewards of doing so are well worth it.

As with last year, my creative efforts for the immediate future will be focused on a large project, which will limit my blogging. However, I have posts on a handful of topics in mind, including an interview as well as reviews of some new publications.

That’s all for now, but in closing I want to wish all my colleagues a great start to the new academic year!

Semester Preview, Part 1: Brass Trio Performances and Guest Artists

free-happy-new-year-2015-clipartGreetings to my readers, and best wishes for a happy and prosperous 2015! Here is my customary semester overview, but this time I decided to break it into two portions. We have a lot of events going on this spring, with quite a few of them occurring in the first few weeks of the semester. Here goes.

Brass Trio Performances

Black Bayou Brass will be very active this spring, beginning with a recital program at the Big 12 Trombone Conference, hosted by James Decker at Texas Tech University. We performed at this conference in 2011 and had a wonderful time, and are looking forward to returning. Our program will consist primarily of original works for brass trio.

  • Flash, by Jérôme Naulais: A great piece which we’ve performed numerous times in recitals and on tour. We’ll be recording this work in May of this year (more on that in a future post).
  • Romanian Folk Dances, Sz. 56, BB 68, by Béla Bartók/arr. David Jolley: This is a fantastic arrangement of these brief piano pieces. They have been recorded by the NY Brass Arts Trio, on an album I reviewed here. They are fun and challenging. Special thanks to David Jolley for making this arrangement available to us!
  • The Brass Abacus, by William Schmidt: A wonderful piece, though seldom performed or recorded. Consisting of five sections which correspond to the letters A, B, A, C, and US, this extended work is full of interesting melodic and rhythmic devices. It is still available, I believe, from Western International Music, which William Schmidt founded. For more info on the composer and his music, check out this blog post by Anthony Plog.
  • Trio for Brass, by Gina Gillie: Completed in 2014, this charming new work was commissioned by the late Elliott Higgins and the New Mexico Brass Trio. Dr. Gillie is Associate Professor of Horn at Pacific Lutheran University, and was a classmate of mine at the University of Wisconsin. In addition to her active performing career on horn, she is also a gifted composer. This trio is very playable, yet encompasses a variety of styles and timbres. We are looking forward to performing it!

In addition to our conference recital, we will be also performing at high schools in Louisiana and Texas, as well as performing our own faculty recital at ULM and a guest recital at Ouachita Baptist University. The Big 12 repertoire will remain the core of our program, with the addition of a few other brief works to round things out.

Guest Artists

The brass area is also excited  to host several fantastic guest artists this spring. The following is a modified version of a press release I recently wrote to publicize these events, hence the slightly more formal language.

Grammy award-winning trumpet artist Dr. Christopher Moore and ULM trumpet professor Dr. Aaron Witek will give a joint recital on January 13th at 7:30 p.m. in the Emy-Lou Biedenharn Recital Hall. Musical selections will include works for two trumpets by Vivialdi, Morales, Pascual-Vilaplana, and works for solo trumpet by Basler, Clarke, Enesco, Peaslee. In addition, Dr. Moore will teach lessons to ULM trumpet students and present a master class while he is in residence.

Faculty members in the Division of Music at Ouachita Baptist University will present a concert of solo and ensemble works for brass on January 26th at 7:30 p.m. in the Emy-Lou Biedenharn Recital Hall. Ensemble members include Dr. Craig V. Hamilton, trumpet; Dr. Heather Thayer, horn; and Dr. Justin Isenhour, trombone (we were undergraduate classmates at Appalachian State University). The group will give a master class for music students on January 27th at 11:00 a.m.

Dr. Nicholas Kenney, Assistant Professor of Horn and Assistant Director of Bands at Southeast Missouri State University, will perform a recital on March 17th at 11:00 a.m. in the Emy-Lou Biedenharn Recital Hall. A frequent soloist and guest clinician, Dr. Kenney was named a finalist in the 2009 International Horn Competition of America. His program will feature the music of Antonio Vivaldi, Paul Basler, Eugene Bozza, and Bernhard Krol. ULM faculty members Dr. Richard Seiler and Dr. James Boldin will also perform on the concert. Dr. Kenney will present a master class on March 16th at 3:30 p.m.

Coming up in Semester Preview, Part 2: Orchestral performances, horn conferences, work on my book project, and more reviews.

Fall Semester Preview

Now that the dust has settled a little bit from the first week of classes, here’s an overview of some activities coming up this semester. I’m very excited to be working with my colleagues and students again, and am looking forward to a great fall!

  • Faculty Recital, Music for Horns and Organ: This year my annual faculty recital (October 7th, First Presbyterian Church, Monroe, LA) will feature music for horn and organ, including several works for two horns and organ. I’ll be joined by Richard Seiler on organ and Andrew Downing on horn. Andy and I will give a repeat performance of this program on October 19th in the Dallas area. There is a lot of great repertoire to talk about on this program, so look for a follow up post in the near future.
  • Orchestral Performances: Highlights of this season (Fall 2014-Spring 2015) with the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra, Rapides Symphony Orchestra, and Monroe Symphony Orchestra  include Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, Brahms’s Symphony No. 1, Dvořák’s Cello Concerto, Schumann’s Symphony No. 3 (Rhenish), and more!
  • Book Project: I’m very excited to be working on a new publication for Mountain Peak Music, forthcoming in 2015. If you aren’t familiar with this company be sure to visit their website because they have some terrific publications, especially for brass players. I’ll post more details about my project in a future article. As this book will be the major focus of my research efforts this semester (and beyond), I will out of necessity be posting less new content to this website. I still plan to keep the job listings page updated, as well as write periodic reviews and other articles, but it is unlikely that I’ll be able to write something new every week.
  • Horn Studio Recital: On November 11th the ULM Horn Studio will present an evening of solo and ensemble music for horns, including several works in the standard repertoire.

These are the major events for me this fall, and as other things of interest come up I will post updates here. In related news, I am in general having success adhering to my New Year’s Resolutions, although restricting my email checking is quite challenging at times.



Spring 2014 Preview

Writing these semester previews is always a lot of fun, because it allows me to see at a glance the various activities going on over the course of several months. As the semester progresses and schedules get busier, it can be difficult to step back and see the big picture. As always, we have some great things happening musically in our region, and if you live nearby I invite you to come check them out. Ok, here goes!

  • Guest Artists Galore: The brass area will be hosting  some wonderful guest artists this semester. To kick things off, Daniel Brady, bass trombonist with “The President’s Own” Marine Band, will give a master class and recital on January 27th. He will be joined on the recital by ULM low brass professor Dr. James Layfield. Shortly after that, Dr. Brent Shires, Assistant Professor of Horn at the University of Central Arkansas and Third Horn in the Arkansas Symphony, will perform a recital on February 5th. Later that month, the Sotto Voce Tuba Quartet will perform and give a master class on February 10th. If you haven’t heard this group before you need to listen to them! This ensemble is one of the finest brass chamber groups out there. During their visit we will also have an all-day brass instrument and sheet music exhibit presented by Music & Arts. In April, renowned trumpet pedagogue Gordon Mathie will present a series of lectures and master classes for all brass players.
  • Black Bayou Brass Performances: Our faculty brass trio will be giving several run-out concerts at area schools, as well as presenting our annual faculty recital on February 19th (more on the repertoire in a future post). We are also participating in a new music concert featuring brand new compositions for brass trio. This concert is being sponsored by the Mid-South Chapter of NACUSA – the National Association of Composers, USA. Although we haven’t seen any of the scores yet, we’re already looking forward to premiering these new pieces. To cap off the semester and academic year, we will be performing a program of music by women composers at the 2014 International Women’s Brass Conference, hosted by Dr. Raquel Rodriquez at Northern Kentucky University. This year’s IWBC has an impressive roster of guest artists, including Elizabeth Freimuth, Principal Horn of the Cincinnati Symphony.
  • Orchestral Concerts: Lots of great repertoire happening with the Monroe Symphony Orchestra, Rapides Symphony Orchestra, and Shreveport Symphony Orchestra. Highlights include Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, Benjamin Britten’s Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes and A Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, and several excerpts from Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust.
  • NELA Horn Ensemble: The Northeast Louisiana Horn Ensemble will begin rehearsals at the end of January. Now in its seventh season, this group has really taken off in terms of membership. We had 20+ horn players in the ensemble last year, and I anticipate a similar number this year. I’ve always wanted to tackle one of the London Horn Sound arrangements with this group, and this season we’ll be preparing Richard Bissell’s arrangement of Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen.
  • Horn Quartet Performances: After taking last year off, I’ll be performing two concerts in March with Les Cors de la Louisiane, a quartet made up of players from the Shreveport Symphony. A highlight of these performances will be Stravinsky’s Four Russian Peasant Songs for Women’s Chorus and Horn Quartet, and Robert Schumann’s Jagdlieder, Op. 137 for Men’s Chorus and Horn Quartet. We’ll be collaborating with the Centenary College Camerata for these works.
  • Focus on Transposition: This semester, transposition will be a special project for all of my horn students. Each week we’ll be looking at a different key, beginning with E-flat and going all the way to F-sharp by the end of the term. If you’d like to join in, the work we’ll be transposing is Etude No. 1 from Lyrical Studies for Trumpet or Horn, by Giuseppe Concone, transcribed by John F. Sawyer, Switzerland: Editions Bim, 1972/1999. The rules are very simple: 1) Strive for 100% accuracy, and 2)You can’t write in note names, but you may write in up to TWO fingering reminders per line of music. Here’s the schedule of transpositions. transpositions
  • Friday Reviews: Over the past several months I’ve accumulated some great new books and CDs, and I’ll be reviewing newbooksthem on a more or less weekly basis. I really enjoy writing reviews, and I’m looking forward to getting back to it. Some of the new publications I’ll be writing about include Blow Your OWN Horn by Fergus McWilliam, I Like to Practice Scales by Ricardo Matosinhos, Intermediate Studies for Developing Artists on the Horn by Howard Hilliard, and two new E-book editions by John Ericson, Introducing the Horn and A Mello Catechism. On the recording side I’ll be reviewing J. Bernardo Silva’s unaccompanied CD, Solo, a new Christmas CD by the I-49 Brass Quintet (players from the Shreveport Symphony), and a fantastic new brass trio recording by the New York Brass Arts Trionewcds

Combined with the normal schedule of lessons, classes, meetings, etc., this should make for an exciting and varied semester!

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